Russian submarines fire cruise missiles at Daesh in Syria

A still taken from Russian Ministry of Defense handout video shows a cruise missile being fired from a Russian warship at sea, on May 31, 2017. (Photo courtesy: video grab)
Updated 15 September 2017
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Russian submarines fire cruise missiles at Daesh in Syria

ABOARD THE ADMIRAL ESSEN: Russia’s military fired seven cruise missiles on Thursday at Daesh targets in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor as pro-regime forces closed in on the militants holed up in the eponymous capital.
Journalists on a trip organized by the Russian Defense Ministry watched from the deck of Russia’s Admiral Essen frigate as two submarines launched seven missiles from the Mediterranean Sea.
The Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air cover, last week broke a three-year siege around the city on the Euphrates River.
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters later that intelligence showed the missiles hit the targets southeast of Deir Ezzor, destroying a command center, a communications hub, an ammunition depot and an unspecified number of Daesh fighters.
Russia has provided military backing for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces since 2015. It has repeatedly fired salvoes of such missiles, from both the sea and mainland Russia.
An Associated Press reporter on the deck of the Admiral Essen frigate saw three missiles and later four more flying into the air, leaving trails of smoke. Two submarines have emerged and were visible on the horizon shortly afterwards.
Backed by an intense aerial campaign, Syrian and allied forces pushed their way toward the city last week, breaking a nearly three-year siege on its troops on the western edge of Deir Ezzor. It was a major symbolic victory for the pro-government forces. Since then, they have been battling remnants of the militants inside the city, seizing more than 60 percent of it. On Thursday, the pro-regime forces were closing in at the extremists from three sides along the river, pounding Al-Bogheliyah neighborhood on the northwestern edge of the city.
The militants are currently encircled by Syrian troops from three sides, with their backs to the Euphrates River. However, they still control rural areas outside the city and the border with Iraq.
As Daesh reels from significant losses in Syria and Iraq, there is a race for control of the border with Iraq, currently still in the militants’ hands. US-backed Syrian forces are meanwhile advancing in the surrounding province from the east and north, on the other side of the river.
Bassem Aziz, a spokesman for the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said his troops had taken control of an industrial area on the eastern bank of the river, a few kilometers from the government troops. Aziz said they are about 6 km away from the city’s eastern entrance.
In its statement last week, the US-led coalition said it will back its partners on the ground to defeat Daesh and “will do our utmost to ensure that (Daesh) terrorists do not move toward the border of our Iraqi partners.
On Wednesday night, a convoy of Daesh terrorists and their relatives being evacuated from the border with Lebanon has crossed into Deir Ezzor from a desert area in central Syria, ending a standoff with the US-led coalition that briefly overshadowed the race for the province.
The evacuation, negotiated by Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, removed the militants from the Syria-Lebanon border but angered Iraq and the US, which said they should have been killed on the battlefield not moved to the Iraq border.
The deal reached at the end of August allowed hundreds of militants and their families to relocate to Boukamal, a Daesh-held Syrian town near the Iraqi border, in exchange for Daesh-held prisoners and the remains of Lebanese soldiers captured in 2014. One surviving Hezbollah fighter was returned to Lebanon on Thursday.
The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman said buses and vehicles carrying about 400 militants and civilians crossed into Deir Ezzor province Wednesday. It was not clear where the buses went.
The US-led coalition struck the road the convoy was traveling on, leaving it stranded in the desert for about two weeks, though some vehicles were able to slip into militant-held territory. The US said it did not strike the convoy itself because of the presence of civilians.
Last week, the US-led coalition said it ended surveillance of the convoy after a Russian request, as Syrian troops advanced against Daesh in eastern Deir Ezzor province.
The proximity of the two forces raises the specter of confrontation, as both sides vie for the border with Iraq and the oil and resources-rich province.


UAE ‘a living example for the peaceful coexistence of all faiths’

Updated 31 min 55 sec ago
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UAE ‘a living example for the peaceful coexistence of all faiths’

  • Every Muslim is an ambassador of Islam, says UAE's grand mufti
  • We should forgive Indian chef Atul Kochhar and teach him about the values of Islam, he says

DUBAI: The UAE has shown the world how people of all faiths and nationalities can live together in peace, which is in line with the teachings of Islam, according to Dubai’s leading religious scholar.
Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Dr. Mohammed Al-Kobaisi, grand mufti of the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities of Dubai, said that Islam includes the principles of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among all people for goodness and righteousness, to benefit everyone.
“The UAE put these principles into practice and legalized the system in such a way that it not only became a case study but a reality that many people live here,” he said.
“We have more than 200 nationalities who are witnessing that and are a testimony to it.
“Allah Almighty has said repeatedly that all mankind are made from one single male and female, and they are made into races and tribes to know one and other. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also repeated the same by saying: ‘Oh mankind you are all from Adam,’ and there is no distinction or superiority over Arab or non-Arab, neither white over black or black over white, except by righteousness and good deeds.”
Al-Kobaisi said these principals of peaceful coexistence are deeply rooted in the teachings of Islam.
“Muslims worldwide abide and practice them,” he said. “The UAE has made huge advancement in this area. It works on multiple levels: The education system, preaching within guidelines, the legal system and many others. All these put together make it a beautiful reality that all people in the UAE enjoy and benefit from the practice (of treating everyone equally.)”
The grand mufti said Muslims who live with non-muslims or in non-Muslim countries must be especially responsible with their behavior as they face particular challenges.
“The first (challenges) are those that Muslims are facing with regard to their faith and other worldly matters,” he said. “The other major issue is their reaction towards these (challenges) — their own behavior.”
He added that like it or not, every Muslim is an ambassador of Islam, and how each individual acts and presents himself or herself affects the perception and image of all Muslims.
“(In this regard) Islam actually stands out among many other religions,” said Al-Kobaisi. “If a non-Muslim does something, it does not reflect on his religion but if a Muslim does, then it usually reflects on the image of Islam.
“That's why the messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, has guided us that we need to stand out among people with our characters, behaviors and morals. A Muslim should be known immediately as a Muslim because he is peaceful, respects the system and laws, is helpful to his community and neighbors, is truthful, and does not lie or cheat.”
He said this etiquette of Islam is very important everywhere but becomes even more crucial when dealing with non-Muslims.
“Now you are representing Islam,” said Al-Kobaisi. “Even if you are not a good Muslim, they will take it that this is what actual Muslims do. So you need to be careful and represent the real Islamic values. Muslims should always be ready to cooperate for the goodness and benefit of society.”
Responding to social media outcry over Dubai-based Indian origin chef Atul Kochhar’s tweet on Islam, Al-Kobaisi said such issues should be considered on two levels.

"First, a person who is living as a guest in a country should respect local cultural values and customs to ensure a peaceful coexistence.

“It does not make sense for a person living as a guest to attack local customs and traditions — let alone religious values or Islam at large, categorizing all Muslims and Islam through a narrow prism based on false information they read somewhere,” he said.

The second consideration is legal, given that the UAE has strict laws governing public comments, online or otherwise, about religion and anyone who breaks them can be prosecuted.

As for how Muslims should react to such cases, Al-Kobaisi said they should realize that the person involved is either ignorant or does not have the right information.

In the particular case of the chef, he said it is the duty of Muslims to educate him and share the real values of Islam, while offering forgiveness when warranted.

“We should forgive him and guide, if we realize that his opinion was based on wrong information and wrong experiences he had in the past,” he said.

However, if a person doing such things deliberately to disturb the peace in society, or to gain attention or sympathy, then the case should be referred to the authorities who will deal with it according to the rule of law, he added.